Skinhead Violence on the Rise in the U.s., ADL Report Says
Menu JTA Search

Skinhead Violence on the Rise in the U.s., ADL Report Says

Download PDF for this date

Neo-Nazi skinheads pose an increasing threat in the United States, according to a report released this week by the Anti-Defamation League.

The number and pace of murders committed by neo-Nazi skinheads in the United States is on the rise, according to the report. And besides committing 22 homicides since 1990, skinheads have committed thousands of other crimes including beatings, stabbings, shootings and synagogue desecrations.

No Jews have been among the murder victims, who have been Hispanic, black, Asian, gay, homeless and, in several cases, other skinheads.

The report, titled "Young Nazi Killers — The Rising Skinhead Danger," states that there are now between 3,300 and 3,500 neo-Nazi skinheads in 160 gangs in 40 states.

In February 1988, the ADL tallied 1,000 to 1,500 skinheads in a dozen states.

There is no national skinhead gang or organization. Instead, networks of gangs with names including the American Front, Aryan Resistance League and SS of America are loosely linked with one another.

Groups often change names, according to the ADL, and link up with old-line hate groups like the Ku Klux Klan, White Aryan Resistance and Church of the Creator.

The seven states with the greatest number of skinheads are: New Jersey, with 400; Texas, with 300 to 400; Oregon, with 300; and Colorado, Florida, Michigan and Virginia with about 200 skinheads each.


The skinhead phenomenon originated in Great Britain in the early 1970s, when gangs of shaven-headed, tattooed youths wearing combat boots began to be seen on the streets. They favored hard-driving rock music filled with bigoted and violent lyrics.

The American skinheads base their dress and behavior on the British model, according to the ADL, but are more openly anti-Semitic than their British counterparts.

In this country they range in age from 13 to 25 and are more likely to be male than female.

The new report, prepared by the ADL’s civil rights division, says that from 1987 through June 1990, neo-Nazi skinheads murdered six people around the country. Since then, they have committed 22 more.

In 1989 the U.S. Justice Department created a task force to prosecute skinhead gangs, according to the ADL, which resulted in a series of successful arrests, convictions and a decrease in the number of skinhead crimes.

The ADL’s last report on skinhead activity, issued in 1990, noted the reduction in crime while stating it would prove merely temporary unless skinheads are prosecuted with consistence.

The new statistics prove that "when tough law enforcement was not applied persistently it indeed provided only temporary relief," said Abraham Foxman, national director of the ADL.

"Unless the law enforcement community now develops a plan to address this problem and gets the resources needed to implement it, there is every likelihood that skinhead crime will continue unabated," he said.

Founding Funders

The digitization of the JTA Archive would not have been possible without the generous support of the following donors:
  • The Gottesman Fund
  • Righteous Persons Foundation
  • Charles H. Revson Foundation
  • Elisa Spungen Bildner and Robert Bildner, in honor of Norma Spungen
  • George S. Blumenthal
  • Grace and Scott Offen Charitable Fund